A weekend walk at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Centennial Trail brought disappointment. Large lantanas (Lantana strigocamara) still remained along the trail to the Tower overlooking Pelican Island and in what was the Butterfly Garden.
Lantana is pretty and has long been culitvated. There are more than 200 cultivars in production, many of which are sterile, but the multi-colored “wild” form is a pernicious invasive plant. For the most part, it have been removed from the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area. Elsewhere, it flourishes often to the peril of horses and cows in pastures in the western part of Indian River County.
Don’t be fooled by yellow-colored forms. They are NOT the native (Lantana depressa), the genes of which likely have been “swamped” by hybridization.
Lantana fruits are dark blue-black when ripe, and birds spread them far and wide. If you can, remove the fruits to prevent the spread of this landscape invader. Check out the University of Florida Invasion of the Landscape Snatchers blog to learn more about lantana and how to control it.